Local fans watched two of their own help with a resurgence of boxing in Haverhill.
Twelve-year-old Jadiel Gonzalez and 15-year-old Isaiah Colon each won their qualifying bouts Saturday night at the U.S.A., New England Region, Boxing Association’s qualifying fights hosted by the Haverhill Boxing Club.
Those bouts brought the young boxers one step closer to qualifying as contenders in U.S.A. Boxing Association matches.
Twelve boxers fought six bouts of three rounds each in the ring at the boxing club, 75 High St., the old St. Michael’s church. Local boxers train there five nights a week.
Gonzalez won handily with fast jabs and steady footwork as he drove his opponent to the ropes. There, Gonzales repeatedly pummeled his opponent, Francis Hogan of the Peter Welch boxing gym.
“I won with my jabs. I kept jabbing at him,” Gonzalez said after the bout.
With jabs shot straight from his shoulders as he leaned into his opponent, Gonzalez kept his head up and his eyes on Hogan as his punches connected in rapid succession.
The Haverhill Boxing Club hosted the afternoon and early-evening bouts to help the younger boxers earn credit toward the five bouts which every boxer needs to enter qualifying matches in the U.S.A. Boxing Association.
Any young boxer who wants to contend for a spot in the Junior Olympics needs to fight five bouts prior to entering qualifying matches to advance towards the Olympic trials. None of the Haverhill boxers have enough bouts to enter the qualifying matches.
“We’re not ready, yet,” trainer Norm Fraza Jr. said earlier in the week at a training session.
“When we start to compete, we’ll fight to win,’’ he said. “Right now, these guys aren’t ready yet. I want to do this right and train. We’re doing this to win, so I want to do it the right way.’’
Gonzalez fought in the 85-pound bout that consisted of three, one-minute rounds, while the other Haverhill winner, Isaiah Colon, fought in the 154-pound bout which had three 90-second rounds.
Colon’s fight with Michael Fitzgerald of the Empire Sports Club went three rounds. Referee Jen Blais of Newton, Mass., had to break three holds and remind Colon to keep his head up.
Fitzgerald hit Colon hard several times on the side of his head with wide swings.
“That’s called slapping; those hits didn’t count,” said Haverhill Boxing Club trainer Joe Ferguson, explaining the front of the glove must make contact for punches to earn points. “They have to hit with that white area on the front of the glove or it doesn’t count.’’
He thinks the referees picked up on that and gave fewer points to Fitzgerald while Colon’s hits came straight out, if slower and with less impact.
The boxers fought to a standing-room-only crowd and the food concession sold out its pizza and cold drinks. The boxers came from gyms in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
David Ribeiro represented the Big East Gym in Stoughton against Anthony Velazquez, who won. He is from the Holyoke Boxing Gym in Holyoke. Sean Brennick of the Peter Welch Gym won his match against Tyler Maguire of the Semple Steps Gym in Fitchburg. Richard Gerokoulis of Total Performance Sports gym in Everett fought John Andrews, who won. He is from Jazz Boxing in Somersworth, N.H. Hansel Santos of the Intense 978 Gym in Lawrence beat Chris Munroe of the Lawrence Boxing Gym.
“The bouts were a success,” said regional USA Boxing Association manager Stephen Clark, “and we hope Haverhill follows up soon with another event. They have a great place, here, and we’d like to see more events in Haverhill.’’